Obituary of Robert Fontaine (1929 – 2021) – New Carlisle, IN

Robert Vincent Fontaine was born September 19, 1929 in “Shoe City”, Brockton, MA, a city of 100,000 people, located about 30 minutes south of Boston. He was the second son of Oscar Jerome Fontaine, an employee of the Commonwealth Shoe & Leather Corporation, and Agnes Mary Kavanaugh, a buyer for a jewelry company. Baptized at St. Patrick’s Church in Brockton, he attended public schools until transferred to Msgr. James Coyle High School in Taunton, MA, the first school to be opened by the Congregation of Holy Cross in the Northeastern United States. After graduation, Robert entered a brief candidate program at the St. Joseph Juniorate in Valatie, NY, and was subsequently received as a novice at the St. Joseph Novitiate in Rolling Prairie, IN, where he professed his first vows as a Brother of Holy Cross on August 16, 1948. Brother Robert began his studies at the University of Notre Dame, obtaining his BA in 1954. Later, he obtained a master’s degree in counseling at the University of Fairfield, Fairfield, CT. He made his perpetual profession on August 16, 1952 at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Notre-Dame. Brother Robert’s first ministerial assignment was as a teacher and vice-principal at Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, Bronx, NY, in the heart of “Little Italy”. He was then assigned to the Notre-Dame International School in Rome, Italy. He served thirteen years there, from 1954 to 1967, the last six years as director of the NDI and as local superior of the community of the Brothers. Brother Robert noted that he was fortunate to be in Rome during the reign of three Pontiffs, Pius XII, John XXIII and Paul VI, the Vatican Council II and the Roman Olympic Games. Many dignitaries of the Council were often invited to Notre Dame International. After his ministry in Rome, was assigned to the Vincentian Institute, Albany, NY and, in 1968, was called to assist in the opening of Holy Cross High School, Waterbury, CT, where he headed the counseling department and guidance until 1973. At that time he was called to assume a whole new ministry as Executive Director of Pius XII Youth and Family Services in Chester, NY, where he served for the thirty following years of his life. Brother Robert was recognized for his leadership in this ministry of service to youth in need of home, care and guidance under the auspices of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York. He was first CEO, then CEO of Pie XII Youth and Family Services. Brother Robert was recognized for his abilities and his ministry to these young people with an honorary doctorate in the humanities from King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. He was also made a Knight Commander of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulcher in 1997. After retiring from Pius XII at the age of 74, he lived and served at the Church of the Holy Family, “The United Nations Parish” in New York. and served in volunteer service with the elderly, first in Sarasota, Florida, and then officially as a pastoral associate at Holy Family Parish in New York City. Brother Robert helped coordinate a weekly parish program for elderly parishioners. In the summer of 2013, Elder Robert began his full retreat at Columba Hall on the University of Notre Dame campus. He enjoyed community life at Columba Hall and walked around the beautiful campus. By his own admission, he particularly enjoyed his interactions with senior residents at Holy Cross healthcare facilities in Holy Cross Village, across from the University of Notre Dame. As his health problems increased, he moved in 2019 to the infirmary at Maison Dujarie. He died there in his sleep on November 17, 2021. He will be buried at Holy Cross Community Cemetery in Valatie, New York on Saturday, November 27, after a Christian funeral mass at 11:00 am. Due to the fragile health of the residents, everyone coming to the wards is asked to be fully vaccinated and to wear a mask throughout. If you plan to stay for a simple lunch afterwards, please call Ms. Susan Henderson at (518) 784-9481 # 209 so that we can give an accurate count to the food service. Brother lived 73 years of his life as a religious of the Holy Cross and spent this life at the service of those who need it most. He served them with zeal and kindness. He was certainly greeted by the Good Shepherd, his Lord, with the words: “Well done, good and faithful servant. May God grant eternal rest to our brother Robert. Avenue Crux Spes Unica.
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Posted by Kaniewski Funeral Home – South Bend on November 26, 2021.

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